Finley Quaye at the Jazz Cafe

Luca had a spare ticket to go see this muso at Camden Town’s famous Jazz Cafe venue a couple of weeks back (I had forgotten to blog about it back then). I’d never listened to any of his music, but I thought I’d go along since I’d also never been to the Jazz Cafe. The venue itself is stunningly intimate, with an airy open stage with a small standing area and balcony views from above for diners who book early enough. It seemed to have decent acoustics, and worth coming to visit at least once.

Quaye had two support acts, the first whose name I never caught (a rock band complete with a skinny, over the top, though entertaining lead singer) and another female singer (whose name I now forget) and had to be prompted by an audience member to tell us who she was. Either way, she had a boisterous laugh, and a rich mellow voice that I thought Quaye’s songs would sound very similar to.

Finley QuayeWhen Quaye arrived, replete with a band that took up all of the stage, he’s definitely not the young man that the website made him out to be. I did a bit of searching and found a comparison. As you can tell, he’s balded quite a bit since then, and even that more recent picture makes him look younger than he appeared that night. It probably didn’t help that he seemed plagued with a couple of problems such as not enough water on stage and a malfunctioning microphone and we saw an edgier, almost angry side, in a very Jekyll and Hyde moment, as he shouted at the venue help.

Having not listened to any of his music, I was surprised by the style. His current style, obviously reggae, is in such contrast to the album that most people had come to listen to him sing – one full of softer, mellow, and definitely poppier tunes. To me, not knowing any of them, it almost sounded like listening to two distinct bands playing from the same stage.

I can see where his music might appeal to some people, yet for me, it didn’t really do that for me. I think I was caught between being somewhat confused by the starkly different styles, and unimpressed by his brief, yet memorably intolerant reaction to the less fortunate events of the night. I’d still go back to see someone else at the Jazz Cafe, though that’s not really a reflection on the performance of the night.

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